A commercial for an insurance product from Malaysia's Hong Leong Bank aimed at Hong Kong's domestic workers has been called “racist” and drew outrage on social media, while organizations representing scores of maids in the city have demanded an apology from the bank, media reports said Wednesday.
The “racist” commercial, which shows a male Chinese actor as a Filipino maid, was reportedly aimed at the employers of Hong Kong’s hundreds of thousands of domestic helpers, most of whom come from the Philippines and Indonesia. According to Agence France-Presse, or AFP, the Malaysian bank did not comment on the controversy surrounding the insurance commercial, but the link to the advertisement was removed from its website on Wednesday.
"I think they should make a public apology," Eni Lestari, spokeswoman for the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, which reportedly aims to protect the rights of migrant and local domestic workers from exploitation, told AFP.
"You are making comedy out of someone, out of a community," she reportedly said, adding: "For (Hong Kong residents) it's funny, but what they don't realize is what's funny is actually racist."
Lestari reportedly claimed that the bank should have hired someone from Indonesia or the Philippines to play the role of the maid in the commercial instead of a male Chinese actor, who is seen in the video wearing a curly wig and performing household chores in a clumsy manner.
There are about 300,000 domestic workers serving Hong Kong's residents, according to reports, and the commercial triggered angry comments on social media.
“The ad is completely off. Hong Leong Bank must still be living in a cave. You guys should get your acts together. This kind of ad simply tells the public the kind of culture you have in your bank and it is a reflection of how backward you are. Get out of the cave, its now 21st century,” Lee Way Ling Siew wrote on the bank’s Facebook page.
“If you want to make an ad regarding DH please make it right. I am domestic helper but I more look like a Chinese and most domestic helper are strong and not clumsy... aren't you tired for being a racist?” another user wrote.
“You guys should really take down that ad and apologise for it… It’s really not appropriate for a professional representation of your financial services,” added Kahlil Stultz, yet another social media user.
The latest outrage in Hong Kong comes weeks after a controversy over a school textbook, which reportedly encouraged children to distinguish their neighbors on racial grounds.
Check out the insurance commercial here: